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County eviction moratorium quietly expires

eviction moratorium
Posted at 4:48 PM, Aug 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 15:29:00-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Despite the spread of the Delta Variant, the county's strict moratorium on evictions quietly expired last week without any talk of an extension.

County renters are still protected by eviction restrictions through the state and the CDC.

The county's moratorium, however, was the most constricting. It limited landlords to only evicting tenants if they are an "imminent health or safety threat" to occupants of the same property.

Molly Kirkland, Public Affairs Director for the Southern California Rental Housing Association, said that made it all but impossible to deal with problem tenants, while also taking key rights away from landlords. The organization is continuing its legal battle against the ordinance, despite it no longer applying. A federal judge threw out the case last month, but the association is appealing it to the Ninth Circuit.

"If the numbers change and things go awry we could very well be under some strict regulations, so I don't think anybody is breathing a total sigh of relief just yet," she said.

Still, Gilberto Vera, a senior attorney at the Legal Aid Society of San Diego, which pushed for the county moratorium, said the act was needed. Vera said landlords were using loopholes in state and federal moratoriums to evict tenants, such as by saying they had to renovate the property based on an exemption for health and safety code upgrades and habitability.

"By alleging that a substantial remodel was needed they could remove a tenant who was not paying rent, they can remodel their unit, which adds equity, and then they can re-rent the unit for higher rent," he said.

Landlords can once again do that for qualifying projects.

The state eviction moratorium lasts through September, while the CDC's goes through Oct. 3.

State and local governments are currently offering to pay back 100 percent of a qualifying household's rent and utilities.